Defeat in the EFL trophy and one point from the last three League One games has stalled Bolton’s resurgence, but O’Grady feels victory over the division’s only other team with a single-figure points tally could pave the way for a very merry Christmas.
“It’s a good chance to play lots of games crammed in together,” he told The Bolton News. “You hope it goes well and if you can get results at the start of the period, you can build on that and see where you end up at the end of it.
“It’s only natural the confidence was hit by the Accrington game, especially after getting three wins in a row before that and going 1-0 up you do get to think we’re going to win another.
“But a game like that does knock you I suppose, and it’s about how you react to that, that’s what means you’re a good team or not, that you bounce back as quickly as possible.”
The troubled Shrimpers are on a dire run of form and, after Kevin Bond left in September and his assistant Gary Waddock then took charge, have turned to Sol Campbell – who led Macclesfield to a final-day escape in League Two last season – as their third manager of the season.
Tomorrow’s visitors to the UniBol have been unable to turn their fortunes around under Campbell, and O’Grady is keen to increase their misery with victory that would take Wanderers two points behind them.
“We’re definitely looking to make inroads into the points deficit,” he added.
“Saturday is a winnable game and a game we really need to win so hopefully we can do that, gain some confidence from it and take it forward.
“I think you have to say it comes under ‘must-win’, if we’re going to achieve anything we have to win games like this, they’re the closest rivals we’re trying to reach and surpass so we need to win it.
“There is definitely enough talent in the squad, it’s just about us clicking and gelling and once we do get the win – like we’ve shown before when we went on a run – it’s all about getting our confidence up and building on it.
“You’re going to have bad luck too, things happen, like against Accrington, where we had a player sent off and gave away a penalty, then within five or 10 minutes we go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down and down to 10 men. So you’ve got to allow for bad luck and it’s how resilient to it you are. You can’t let it spiral, you just get back on track, personally and as a club, and see where you go from there. You do get knocks as players and the club’s been through so much so if we get back on track as a team, hopefully that can spread through the club, to the fans and the town.”
Keith Hill, who O’Grady reunited with at Wanderers after their time together at Rochdale, also has a return to form in mind for Christmas, and refuses to get downbeat after their poor run.
“It was inevitable that our results would plateau out, 100 per cent,” he said. “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. There is a science about sport, there is a plateauing out, there’s opposition profiling going on now with perceived weaknesses and strengths where we were basically the unknown.
“One thing I need to do and quickly is turn around our away form, we have to make sure that’s smooth in comparison to our home form, but plateauing out doesn’t mean we’ve become losers.
“We’re winners, we want to win and we’re trying our best to win. This group can’t give any more than they’re giving me, but they are winners, it’s just not being reflected in the scoreboard.
“Everything they do every day proves to me that this football club will start winning games again.”